Many news sites have paywalls to incentivise people to pay them for their content. There are a number of ways one can get access to this content, depending on the form of the paywall:

  • f12
    • In some cases the content is delivered with any request, but hidden by css or javascript. In these cases one can use f12 and find the content. From this question and intuition it seems this has to be legal.
  • Private mode
    • In some cases the users are tracked by cookies, and are blocked from accessing content on the basis of articles read. This can be avoided by using private/incognito mode. This seems practically like this question to which the answer was illegal, but it does not seem quite right. I have never seen a TOS that says "Do not use private mode", so it is hard to see how this could actually be unauthorised, but perhaps there is case law that would apply.
  • News accumulator sites
    • There are many sites such as yahoo news and 68k news that republish news articles, and functionally allow one to read documents that would not be available if one went straight to the site. These totally look like they would be breaching copyright, but they continue to exist in the presence of litigious publishers, so perhaps they are legal?
  • Using a site directed at the article

Is the user committing any crime in any of these cases? Could they be exposing themselves to a successful civil suit? What about the providers, whether this is the browser manufacturer in the first two cases or the third party site in the latter two?

Any jurisdiction would be interesting, somewhere with an extradition treaty with the US is probably most relevant.



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